When our Daughter Mary graduated from the JSA in 1967 we wanted to give her a graduation present. We asked her what she would like for a graduation present she said that she would like a pack trip into the Sierra Madre Mountains for her present. This was pleasing to all concerned so we made our preparationsss for the Trip. Susann agreed to stay home and take care of the younger children. As near as I can remember the Group that was to go was the six of us so as to be able to travel light and cover more territory. Naoma and I, Mary and Sam, and Jenene and Karl made our preparations and packed everything into the vehicle as we checked it off on the checklist. Tracy had recently been on a trip with Leland and me to the mountains on a Turkey Hunt so he agreed to stay home and help Susie take care of Claudia and Anthony and milk the cows. Keith Larae was on his mission in the Hermosillo mission at that time.

The day of departure came and with the saddles cinched on the "Redilas" and the Aparejo's and boxes and bedding arranged into a bed in the back of the old, green Chevrolet Pickup truck we started eagerly on our trip. Sam as usual lay down in the back under the canvas stretched over the bows of the redilas and soon fell alseep. Mary, Jenene and Karl preferred to ride on a board seat in the basket of the redilas that stuck out over the cab of the truck. We went through Hop Valley and up the old grade on the west side of the town and across the Hop Valley Mesa, that Don Panchito Peņa called "La Mesa Repugnosa". From there we drove down into the Garcia Creek. This creek is a beautiful creek that heads above Garcia and joins the box canyon creek at Corrales. After crossing the Garcia creek nine times we went through Heartburn valley and on into Garcia. Cliff Whetten named that valley. He said that when they lived there when he was a little boy all they had to eat was corn bread and molasses and that every time he traveled through there he got the Heartburn.

From Garcia we crossed over the continental divide, west of Garcia, and drove down into Las Amarillas. The valley was already covered with yellow flowers, hence the name. We crossed the valley among the yellow flowers and climbed over a high ridge down into "Canyon Frio" ( Cold Canyon). Here we connected with the graded road that comes from the Colorado to the Elvin Whetten Ranch on the bend of the Gavilan River.

We were sailing along on the good road in this beautiful, forrested canyon when we felt a jerk and heard a loud twang. I stopped and found that we had gone under an abandoned telephone line that was strung across the road. The wire was the right height to go over the cab of the truck and under the basket where the kids were riding. The wire had broken when it hit the solid pipes of the redilas. We all thanked our Heavenly Father for his protecting care. I hate even think of what might have happened if that wire had been above the basket where our precious children were riding.

We went on to the Colorado sawmill to hear the whine of the saw and see the men working. They were receiving and stacking the lumber and the big trucks were unloading their loads of logs into the pond. We went by to say "hello" to the Cordoba familv. Seņor

Cordova was me administrador. We saw him and his wife and family were living there with him. His wife is the daughter of the Chavez family that used to have a meat market here in Casas Grandes.

From the sawmill we followed the good logging road that took us up past Bull Peak and on down the Lonja to the end of the road. The road ended on a little mesa about a mile above Emilio Burgos' Ranch, El Rey. Mary and I left the truck and walked down the trail toward the ranch to arrange for the animals for the trip. As we came down into a little side canyon that runs into the ranch canyon Mary saw a big Metate. We examined it and found that it had a cross that had been made in the rock on the back of the Metate. On our way out Naoma insisted that we bring this Metate home with us and we still have it here in our back yard.

We found Kiko Chavez, who was the cowboy at the Ranch at that time and he said that he would have the animals up to camp early the next morning. We visited awhile and told him where we wanted to go and he was agreeable and ready to go with us. We hiked back up to the little mesa where we had left the rest of the family and the truck. We all made camp, ate a good supper and settled down for the night.

When the sun came up the next morning we had eaten our breakfast and were packing up the three pack mules with all of our gear. We packed Patty, the big brown mule and a little dun mule that was new to us. We got everyone mounted satisfactorily and picked up the lead ropes of the pack mules and took the trail through the ranch and up onto the high, beautiful plateau of the San Carlos. The San Carlos Ranch was where General Don Cirilo Perez came and made his headquarters after he retired from the army after the Revolution.

From San Carlos the trail winds through a canyon and along a long ridge and drops into the Chuhuichupa River. The country at this point of crossing is open, the river is wide and has a good bottom so it makes an easy crossing. We all crossed over and were starting up the trail on the other side when we could hear the whining of Kiko's little dogs. They were running back and forth along the opposite bank not wanting to enter the brown water of the river. After some coaxing they jumped into the water and swam across barely touching the bottom in a few places.

The crossing here is about a mile above the confluence of the Chuhuichupa River and the Black Canyon River and on the north side of the "Huerfano". The Huerfano (Orphan) is a round hill that rises above the surrounding mesas. It stands alone with the Chuhuichupa on the north, the Black Canyon on the west, the Fresas creek on the east and a low mesa on the south. It can be seen from miles around as it stands in it's pine covered beauty and loneliness.

We followed the trail climbing around the north side of the Huerfano and turned south along the high rim of the cliffed up Black Canyon River and dropped into the river at the head of the old Williams Air-strip. We crossed the river and rode around the runway and made camp in a little cove where the runway makes a U turn to the north.

We unpacked, unsaddled and put up the Kitchen fly and the tents. Kiko hobbled and belled the horses and drove the horses and the mules up the canyon to graze. The mules will stay with the horses so that is why they are just turned loose. We soon had a good fire going, the Grills set up and dinner on the way. After dinner and a little rest and relaxation, we went to examine the remains of the wrecked plain that the Williams brothers had wrecked while trying to take off. Apparently they had tried to take off and didn't have enough altitude to clear the pass after making a U turn they tried to land again but didn't have enough runway left. Why they were living in a little one room house across the river and why they had an Air strip in this remote and lonely place is left for us to only guess. They might have been working with Gib Graham who had a ranch at Three Rivers. They were running their cattle on Black canyon area.

We all headed for one of our favorite swimming holes that was there in Black canyon about 100 yards from our camp. It is a deep hole with a convenient high bank to dive from. After swimming for a while I saw old Mr Lane coming along the Trail. I thought he would be along because he always checked everyone out that came near his ranch. He always followed every strange track that came onto his land to investigate what they were doing. I went up to meet him to say hello and visit a while. I told him that our daughter Mary was a good friend to his Grand Daughter Kathy and that I had taught Kathy and George Junior in school in Dublan. He told me that the pool where we were swimming, was his Wife's favorite fishing place. He said that she would throw a hand full of Grasshoppers on the water of the pool to bring the bigger trout up from the bottom and start feeding. Then she could take as many as she liked with a Grasshopper on her hook. He also showed me where he had placed a large rock by a tree on the trail so that his horse would have to go around the rock and not bump his knee on the tree trunk. He said that he had most of the trails fixed like that wherever he rode frequently.

The Lanes lived at their Ranch and very seldom went out of the mountains. Their Son George would bring them Supplies and all that they needed. Las Fresas was famous for the Hospitality of the Lanes and no traveler dared go through their land without stopping to report all of the news and visit.

The next morning we packed up and took the trail west past the Williams house and up the trail toward the Puerto del Apache (Apache Pass). That trail goes steeply up a steep mountain of mostly solid rock. The vegetation is scarce on the rock, but abundant where there are patches of soil. Near the top the pines are tall and beautiful. After climbing that long trail much of it a white scar in the solid rock, we came to "Los Ojos de La Virgen". (The Eyes of the Virgin). This is a shallow cave where the cold sweet water drops like tears from the rock ceiling of the cave. There was a little can there so we quenched our thirst by catching drop by drop to fill the can.

At the top of the pass we went through the gate of the fence line of the Joe Beecroft Ranch. From there the trail goes down a long low depression or volcanic fault then turns up along a high narrow ridge high above the Arco Canyon. The view is one of vastness. As far as the eye can see there is a continuation of ridge after pine covered ridge coming down from the high mountains on either side into the beautiful Arco Canyon. To the west we could see mountain after towering mountain with "El Pico de la India" (The peak of the Indian Girl) looking misty blue in the hazy distance. The impatient pack mules followed the steep switchback trail down to come out on the canyon floor near the little old cabin of the Pedernal. (The Rocky Place.) From there we followed the trail south along the Arco river and crossed over into the mouth of the Metate Canyon. As we entered the canyon, there at the foot of a cliff in the shade of some tall slender pines was a cross. I asked Kiko who had died there and he said that they had caught a bandido and hung him there. He didn't seem to know any more than that.

We chose just the right spot beside the cold clear waters of the Metate creek and made camp. After the usual process of making camp and taking care of the animals we prepared to do what we came for. Very soon we had caught enough Native Rainbow Trout for Supper and breakfast. After a supper of fresh caught Trout we were content to just sit around the campfire and enjoy the feeling of peace that a camp deep in the Sierra Madre Mountains can give.

The next morning we woke up to the sound of rain on our tents and prepared our breakfast of Trout Hot Cakes and Eggs under the kitchen fly. Then we packed everything up and tied it all down under good canvas pack covers with a wet rope cinched down tight with a Diamond hitch. We all had on our Ponchos to cover us and our saddles to keep us from getting wet. As we started down the Canyon the rain increased until it became a downpour. The rain came in sheets and soon the trail was a little river running under the feet of our animals. There is no feeling like riding well protected in a hard rainstorm. The water was running everywhere and the storm was accentuated with bright flashes of lightning and loud crashes of thunder. The clear water of the river turned to chocolate and got deeper each time the trail crossed the flooding stream. What a wonderful experience it was to see the forces of nature at work in those majestic and beautiful surroundings. We have often commented on the wonder of that time we rode in the driving rain in the Arco Canyon.

When we came to the Beecroft Ranch they were all out on the porch watching the rain. We had planned to visit them awhile but under the circumstances we just went over and chatted awhile without dismounting. Kiko had continued on down the canyon with the pack mules following so we had to gallop in the mud and water to catch up.

When we came to the crossing where the Chuhuichupa River and the Black Canyon River together join the Arco River we knew we had to cross some high water. The crossing was upriver a little from where the Arco runs in and was quite wide and shallow when it wasn't flooding. Kiko went right in the crossing leading the little dun mule and the other pack mules followed. About midstream the little dun mule began to swim and the current was taking her down stream but kiko dallied the strong lead rope around the horn of his saddle and pulled her on across. The rest of us came on across without any trouble, just getting wet up to our seats. Kiko's poor little dogs were whining and not wanting to enter the flooding river. Finally after much urging and calling they jumped into the boiling water and began to swim as fast as they could. In spite of their heroic efforts they were swept swiftly down stream and disappeared around the bend in the river. At Karl's insistence we all went back to see if we could find them or help them in any way. When we arrived at the bend in the river we could see one of the little dogs marooned on a little ledge of a cliff on the opposite side of the river. Shivering with cold he was wailing his distress and fear. No amount of coaxing and calling could get him to give it another try. The river there was too deep and swift for anyone to try a dangerous rescue on horseback. As we were leaving, to our surprise and joy, the other little dog came to join us. He was wet and battered but very glad to have made it out far downstream. As I remember Karl and the others were not happy to go and leave the other little dog shivering and crying on his little ledge. I tried to console them by saying that after a while he would in desperation jump in and finally swim out and come home.

After we left the San Juan Crossing we turned east along the fence trail toward El Rey and home. I remember that as we reached the top of the mesa between San Juan and the Ranch that the sun came out and we were able to take off our ponchos and begin to dry out our pants and boots.

On our way to the truck Naoma insisted that we take the Metate with the cross on it Home with us and we still have it in our back yard. On our way home we stopped at the Cordoba's home and they had just made some Jamoncillo which is a delicious candy made from cows milk and sugar boiled down until it goes into a solid candy.

We always left our Animals at Emilio's Ranch so that they could be used and be ready for our next trip. We seldom had enough animals of our own at that time to accommodate all of our groups to ride and have enough pack animals. Emilio graciously supplied what we needed for all of out trips that began on his ranch. He would always say, "I can't go with you this time but tell the Cowboy to go with you and supply you all of the animals that you need." He had some of the best Pack Mules that I have ever seen. Most of them were trained by his Father when he was alive and working the ranch.

We arrived home the next day and found all well and happy and eager to hear of our trip.

Naoma worked with me on this and helped me remember many things that I had forgotten.